Use Bougainvillea to Create the Prettiest Shade Cover

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Use Bougainvillea to Create the Prettiest Shade Cover

When trained to cover a patio cover or other structure, Bougainvillea filters out dust and cools the air that passes through it.

Also, because cool air is heavier than hot air, a canopy of bougainvillea will trap cool air underneath it. Great news for areas with dry, hot summers!

June is a good time to plant Bougainvillea in Southern California (except for extremely hot interior zones). If you would like to train your plant to provide a shade canopy, be sure to pick a vining variety that will be the appropriate size for your space. I was just talking to someone who’s Bougainvillea has covered his back wall and the back walls of both of his neighbors on either side. So some varieties can be very vigorous!

When you transplant your Bougainvillea be very careful not to disturb the plant’s roots, as Bougainvilleas will complain vociferously if their roots are damaged. Water deeply on the day you plant it, and on each of the three following days. Thereafter, you only need to water once a week (or if you see signs of drought stress), but always water deeply. Fertilize your plant once a month between April and August with flower fertilizer.

If you’re looking for interesting places to get gardening inspiration, check out The Getty Museum in Los Angeles. In their garden, they have columnar umbrellas of Bougainvillea in their gardens. You can get a similar umbrella-type trellis to use on your patio. Or you can train it up onto your patio cover or onto a traditional trellis.

Bougainvillea doesn’t have tendrils that will grasp a trellis, nor will the vines twine themselves around a post. The branches sprawl in all directions, and will look messy if you don’t train the plant to grow where you want it to grow. Unlike an errant puppy, however, it is very easy to train. Simple tie the branches very loosely to whatever you want your Bougainvillea to grow on. It will do the rest.